Colorectal Cancer – The Cancer You Can Prevent
By Consuelo Saragoza, Multnomah County Health Department
“Si no tienes tu salud, no tienes nada.” I’ve heard this saying from my mother my entire life. At 88, she still says it. That’s why, like lots of people, I try to eat healthy food, get regular exercise, and see my doctor for regular check-ups and health screenings. Once I turned 50, those health screenings began to include screening for colorectal cancer.
Screening is looking for cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease. In the case of colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum), screening can often find the disease at an early, more treatable stage. It can also prevent some colon or rectal cancers altogether. This is because some screening tests can find growths (called polyps), which can then be removed before they have a chance to become cancerous.
Unfortunately, Latinos have the lowest colorectal cancer screening rate of all racial and ethnic groups in Multnomah County. According to the most recent information, only 20.8% of Latinos in Multnomah County were up to date on recommended colorectal cancer screenings. The American Cancer Society’s goal is by 2018 to get 80% of all people up to date with their screenings. As a community we have a long way to go.
Though deaths from colorectal cancer in the Latino community are lower than those for other racial and ethnic groups in Multnomah County, they are on the rise. Deaths from colorectal cancer for Latinos have doubled in the last decade.
That’s why talking to your doctor and getting screened are so important. Talk to your family and friends about getting screened too. It may be uncomfortable at first, but the more we talk about this together, the healthier we all can be.
Why haven’t you been screened for Colorectal Cancer?
It’s embarrassing. I don’t want to talk to my doctor about that!
Yes, it can be difficult to talk with your doctor or your family about things to do with the colon or rectum. It may be a little embarrassing for you, but doctors talk about this all the time with other patients and are not embarrassed.
It’s scary. What if they find cancer?
Cancer is frightening. But cancer of the colon and rectum can actually be prevented and successfully treated when caught early by screening. Screening can mean more happy and healthy time with your family.
I feel healthy, so I don’t need one:
Many people think if they feel healthy, they don’t need to have the test.Colorectal cancer can be symptomless, especially early in the disease. You may not know if anything is wrong. If you wait until symptoms show up, cancer can be very advanced. Why not get screened and be sure?